By – Shamim Masih
ISLAMABAD: On 11th February 2014,22 years old Asim Saleem (rickshaw driver) parked his three wheeled vehicle and went out of his house. He went to see his girl friend, Sunair (20yrs) of a Muslim background. He intended to marry her but his parents kept thwarting him and demanded that he avoid Sunair. The couple decided to take the bold step of cross-faith marriage a dangerous ambition in Paksitan, and got married that same day in their local court.
Asim Saleem didn’t involve his parents while marrying the girl. So the couple eloped and travelled away from their families to marry secretly in court. On the very same day, religious leaders informed of the marraige by Sunair's family went to the Christian community where MR Saleem lived and demanded recovery of the Muslim girl. Mr Saleem's family members and others in the Christian community were unaware about the elopement and marriage and requested some time to investigate. but they couldn’t find them during the given time period. It seems a short period was permitted to the community.
Muslims under the leadership of Qari Sohail Iqbal (local prayer leader) returned on the 13th February 2014 and warned themlocal people that if they couldn’t produce the couple; a Muslim mob would return and sat ablaze their homes, they wrned residents that people would be executed in retribution.
A few terrified Christian found the courage to inform the local administration, about this critical situation. Police were on alert and ready to supress any violence. On Friday, 14 February 2014, after Jumma prayers, a large mob of extremists travelled to the Christian enclave intending to vandalise peoples homes and cause terror. Local police however, surrounded the homes of Christians of Nazareth Colony. Christian’s inhabitants of the said colony fled the homes for safety as soon as a precaution against further attempts.
In a bizarre twist of events, the local police have filed a case against Mr Saleem. They have registered a case under first investigation report FIR – 114/14 against the Christian male, under sections of abduction and enforced matrimony, PP 265 – B. A further allegation has been made against him for theft of Rs. 54000/ and gold of 5 grams. It is belived these allegations are false. The police have arrested two Christian men Bashir Masih 50, and Shaukat Masih 35 who are the cousin and the father of the accused. Both were allegedly tortured and forced to make a confession admitting to be involved in taking hostage the Muslim girl.
Saleem Masih (father of the accused) died of a heart attack whilst in custody. The Investigating Officer – IO, Muhammad Shabbir, stated that police kept these two persons for their own good and well being. He advised that all action taken was for the safety of Christian community.
for they have to show them that the administration have kept those two, to convince the extremists. Later they were released, when I meet them; I saw that they were being tortured during police custody. (Photos attached)
Findings: Asim Saleem is son of Saleem Masih living in Nazareth Colony, Faisalabad District. About 25 years back Roman Catholics planned Nazareth Colony to for the better living for Christians. With the passage of time, it becomes populated with a Muslim majority. A small Christian population remains within a few streets. There are about 600 – 700 Christian families living among thousands of Muslims. Most of the residents are working for the municipality as sweepers or laborers. The education rate for Christians is very low and like this family. Saleem Masih; was a rickshaw driver and had five sons and one daughter. When I went there on Sunday, the Roman Catholic Church was locked. Residents informed me that the father usually held services once a month. There I found another church Victory Church International Ministries; and I attended the memorial service of the deceased.
Christian girls are abducted, forcefully converted to Islam and married to influential Muslims, but police do not file any case against Muslims. If a Muslim girl marries a Christian boy willingly, extremists arrive to vandalize the Christian communities.